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Next FoodNetwork Star 7/28--Spoiler!

Okay, there is NO way Nikki should have gone home before Rodney and that's all there is to it. Seems to me they simply wanted to have 2 men and 2 women at the end.

Rodney has made what--one thing?--that anyone thought was good. Why is he still there? (By the way, walking on tip toes and pulling back the shoulders doesn't make that gut look any slimmer. A chef's jacket might be a good investment and allow him to breathe more.)

But I agree with those of you who aren't really interested in watching ANY of these people on their own show. The only one I've liked from the beginning is Demaris. And as someone pointed out before: they spent the first half of the competition telling her not to be herself to then doing an about face and insisting she be more like herself.

If Stacy wins, she could do something like "Vintage Cooking with the Stepford Wives."

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  1. you forgot to mention that Rodnet needs subtitles to understand him.

    1. I like Nikki myself and completely expected her to take this. If she turned this around and pitched a show about finding out what foods are (What is pilaf? What is pesto? What is chutney?) I bet FN would go for it, and if the questions were good ones I'd watch the hell out of that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ennuisans

        That's actually a good idea. Her POV could be the 'I don't know what the hell I'm talking about so let's learn together.' Brilliant.

      2. ITA that Rodney should have gone home! He's a mess.

        I'm not sure I'd watch any of their shows, but I'm interested to see who takes it. IMO, the two front runners are Demaris and Russell.

        1. I was shocked it wasn't Rodney too. I don't have the issue everyone else seems to have with understanding him. Yeah he's a little garbled but c'mon, it's not that bad. I do think he's fun and can understand him winning points on that but he hasn't made good food 90% of the time. This was one time when Nikki didn't seem to be on top of things, I can't believe they'd kick her out on her lame explanation of rice pilaf. And Alton keeps saying Stacy doesn't connect with the audience. If by that he means she seems plastic and superficial, yes but using the term "connect" doesn't seem to be the best.
          Russell got a little better but he's been so bad overall, I don't see him winning this but who knows.

          I felt bad for the dude whose restaurant they were trying to make over. And would be curious to see Stacy's episode of Rest Imp.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Joanie

            I'm trying to figure out how someone who needed to be on Restaurant Impossible qualifies as a Food Network Star in the first place.

            1. re: rasputina

              I recall, if vaguely, seeing her episode. If my memory serves, her dad had bankrolled her restaurant which had ok food and service but was being mismanaged to the point of unprofitability. I think I remember them not being open for dinner because she wanted to spend time w her family. Robert irvine pointed out that it was probably hurting her bottom line.

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                She is still doing dinner but it's breakfast and lunch where the business is.

                She should take a page from last night's episode, she SERIOUSLY needs to change up her dinner menu. It's pretty stale. Her restaurant is located in a very, very underserved area of San Diego. Extremely suburban with a high percentage of retirees who have lived in the community for 40+ years and a growing influx of young families because the houses are nice and the schools good. There are almost no non-chain sit-down restos. The Trails (Stacey's restaurant) could really serve the community well at dinner if her menu was fresher.

                She's located next door to a regional pizza chain that does more take out than eat in. 2 doors down is a terrible seafood place. Across the parking lot is a fast food Mexican place and around the corner is a beloved Italian place that's been in business 50+ years (and not without their own set of issues). If she could get her menu right she could kick some serious butt at dinner because the options around her are so dull. But the seniors don't want to pay more than $10 for dinner and the families spend their money on other things.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Last night she claimed her resto cleared a million dollars last year.

                  1. re: rasputina

                    thats really not that much for a restaurant of a decent size in a busy/urban area. gross, that is.

                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      50-60 seat restaurant, in a sleepy suburban neighborhood with many seniors who have lived in the area for 40+ years

                      Customer base that is not willing to pay more than the bare minimum for food. San Diego is not a culinary hot spot by any stretch of the imagination. Neither her location nor her customer base would support a terribly creative menu at price points needed to support it.

                      To do a mil in her location on basically breakfast and lunch is actually pretty amazing. And for the record, I've been in the food business for 35+ years and have spent most of that in commercial kitchens. My parents have owned a house down the street from her restaurant for 40+ years. Given her location and clientele, I'm surprised she even hit a mil; it's a tough location and a tough crowd.

                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                        I was wondering if "cleared" meant net or gross.

                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                          id have to think she meant gross receipts, because if she netted over 1m she'd have said that.

                2. re: rasputina

                  I live down the street from Stacey's restaurant and have been there many times. You have to see the episode, her problem wasn't the food or the decor. Robert Irvine even admitted as much on camera saying "the food is good and the place is clean, why am I here". Well, because she overpaid for the restaurant and wasn't managing her pricing, menu and bills quite right.

                  Her place is primarily a breakfast/lunch place. They do that very well including some outstanding gluten free offerings. I happened to be by her place yesterday about noon and the line was out the door. . .Which is pretty typical.

                  Stacey's restaurant didn't really need the make over as much as it was her business practices.

                  Having met and talked with her many times I'm a bit perplexed as to where this "guarded and aloof"mindset is coming from. She's not that.not a Stepford Wife. But I can see where that is coming from. Stacey is actually pretty nice, but nice is boring and that's the elephant in the room with Stacey. She's boring and not that interesting.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    she seems (on-camera anyway), to a degree, like Lovely, but with more "there" there. its not just that shes boring/not terribly interesting, but that she is those things and, apparently, rather smart because she recognizes it and is doing what she can to cover it up (which is not always enough)

                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      I don't think she's "covering up", I think she's trying to listen to what they're telling her and trying to adjust to what they're telling her the want, which isn't what she is.

                      If you read any of the Guy Fieri history, that's exactly what he did, as did several other winners. Personally, even though I know Stacey, I don't think it's going to help her win this thing. My money is on Demaris

                    1. re: rasputina

                      Ok since someone posted the name of her restaurant, I googled it and went to their website which is at least easy to navigate and not cluttered too much.

                      Looking at the menu though, it's really boring. I didn't see one thing that I couldn't make myself. And the blog, is just weird. Referring to yourself in the third person and stating your rooting for Stacy.

                      Now that I looked at it, I do vaguely remember that Restaurant Impossible episode. I just don't see anything there that screams, give me a cooking show. I don't see anything inspiring and the menu certainly doesn't reflect her POV of vintage redone.

                      1. re: rasputina

                        I agree. See my comments up thread about her menu.

                        We were talking about this last night watching the show and saying she needed to take a lesson from that epsiode and change up her menu. One of the reasons we don't go very frequently for dinner is becuause there really isn't much on it that appeals. Both burgers are decent, the patty melt needs help. The meatloaf is usually good, but definitely was not the last time.

                        The food is actually pretty decent, but the menu is terribly dull. Breakfast is a far better option than dinner and her gluten free menu is one of the more extensive and better ones in town.

                        My take on this is that she'd like to win Food Network Star so she can get out from under the resto and move on with something else.

                  2. I was shocked it was Nikki and not Rodney too.

                    Here's what I wrote in the other thread regarding this weeks episode

                    Ok so I was watching tonights episode and it finally clicked why I don't like Stacy. She just comes across like a morning talk show host to me. I'm sure she is a very nice person. But I just have no desire to watch her at all. I don't like her for the same reason I can't stand Kelly Ripa.

                    1. I kinda wonder if having Guy Fieri "direct" them next week will be the kiss of death for pie style. He sounds like he's a Guy wannabe and GF may not be overly fond of competition.

                      1. My guess is that Rodney is going to be the winner. Food Network obviously likes him because I've seen him on Paula Deen, Chopped, and I think even Ace of Cakes or something with Duff Goldman.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Njchicaa

                          maybe, but they have been cross-promoting a lot of these folks (did i catch a minute of Viet on some wilderness survival/cheffing show last week?). it seems pretty clear that "winning" is no guarantee of success and at the same time merely being on the show is sometimes sufficient to launch future endeavors.

                          1. re: tex.s.toast

                            *gasp* Extreme Chef! I had not made the Viet connection.

                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                              Was this Viet appearance something new, or a rerun? He was runner up on last year's season of Extreme Chef.

                            2. re: Njchicaa

                              I can't watch Rodney for 5 minutes, let alone a whole show. But I think you're right when you say he's going to win it all. The Food Network website has a fan favorite poll and Rodney is leading. So apparently he is what America wants to watch, lousy food and all.

                              1. re: Njchicaa

                                Do they really need another crude, overweight full-of-himself "dude" like Guy Fieri. Having one is is too much for me.

                                1. re: chicgail

                                  while flipping channels last night i caught like 30 seconds of DDD (the episode where he goes "back to his roots" and checks out, you know, HIS OWN RESTAURANT) and guess what? guy was wearing a shirt with the same stupid shoulder embellishments that Rodney loves.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    OH give me a break. Guy is articulate, knowledgeable, and well-spoken. Whether you like his style or not. Rodney is barely intelligible and has one trick "Pie Style". (And I thought it hysterical when Irvine said, "What's pie style?" last night.)

                                    1. re: jmckee

                                      i object to the notion that guy is articulate, knowledgeable or well spoken. i agree that, compared to Rodney, he is intelligible, but that seems necessary but not sufficient for tv-hostdom.

                                      Seriously, in the 5 mins at a go that I can stand to watch him, he will hardly ever use any real words to describe the food. im glad that whatever he just smeared all over his bleached out goatee is "slammin', dynomite, bangin', awesome, amazing and off the hook" but its like he is TRYING to break all the rules they impose on FNS contestants - using vague, hyperbolic and non-specific words that describe the experience of eating, but not the food itself.

                                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                                        Tex--- you are soooooo fabing on the truing point there.you know yo' shiz fist pump to you man!

                                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                                          Bobby Flay would have a field day with his little buzzer listening to DDD.

                                  2. So the task was to create something healthy and Rodney came up with a not-so-tempting-looking DEEP FRIED pie ala McDonalds?

                                    They should have sent him packing for that alone!

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      Wasn't the task to simply recreate a tired dish from the present menu? I don't think healthy was a requirement.

                                      Back to Stacy, I just feel like that smile is so artificially plastered on her face, it seems very fake.

                                      1. re: Joanie

                                        Yep, there was nothing about the remake dish having to be healthy - it just had to be a modern take on a tired "classic" from the menu.

                                        Re: Stacy - I've never warmed up to her either, but then I don't really get the whole "vintage" theme she keeps saying she's promoting. In fact isn't the whole vintage/retro style just getting tired already? (I didn't like the contestant last year who was trying to go that route.) Plus it seems like every time she's describing a dish or doing a presentation it's always "as a working MOM" "as a busy MOM"...ok, we get it. But some of us aren't moms and you're not winning us over with this over-emphasis (IMO).

                                        Actually the only contestant left I find at all possibly interesting is Russell because he actually seems to have some novel ideas to bring to the table (and tv).

                                        1. re: Joanie

                                          That's her real smile, but I do agree it looks too forced most of the time.

                                          Actually she looks paniced most of the time...

                                          1. re: Joanie

                                            I was sure Alton said healthy but I rewatched and y'all are right.

                                            Was anyone else a bit creeped out by "Phil, Amber and Ashley?"

                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                              The restaurants dishes were scary to me LOL.

                                              In the end, Nikki should have gone home just for the fact that she hates salmon. Ok joking. But I don't understand how anyone can hate salmon. It's one of my favorite fish.

                                              Alton sure liked her meat on the side POV, but really it's not hard to just do that yourself. No need for a whole show about it.

                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                YES!!! Looked like...well I don't want to say what it looked like. (I'm talking about the menage a trois, not the food.)

                                                1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                  That beef with mushrooms attached to the top with toothpicks made me LOL

                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                    One thing that kind of annoys me is that the contestants are so darn nervous when they do their presentations. When I saw the food they serve at this place, I was thinking, my only problem would be keeping a straight face and acting like I think this is a serious challenge to improve their food. I mean, honestly, why should they have been intimidated at all? And the camera shots of the owner and his lovely assistants looking so serious like they're Michelin star chefs--oh man, I'm biting my nails that our contestants can come up with something better. Like Alton Brown and Robert Irvine wouldn't be blasting that food if one of the contestants made it?

                                                2. re: C. Hamster

                                                  Phil/Amber/Ashley were kind of like Heff and a couple playmates. Those girls didn't look like managers but their comments about the old dishes were legitimate.

                                                  As far as Rasputina's comment on salmon goes, it took me a LONG time before I could eat it. I can totally understand it being something Nikki dislikes.

                                                3. re: Joanie

                                                  I was thinking about Stacy's smile as I watched it and I think it's that she had a bad botox job. Nothing above her lips move so it all seems forced and unnatural. I don't want to bash her for getting botox because it's pretty standard in TV world and in parts of the country but a bad botox job can make you look scary. If her eyes corresponded to her smile, it would seem more genuine.

                                              2. Aside from the star wannabes, what did you think of that first "challenge"--brought to you by Special K? The purported idea being to make something out of what you've got in the pantry. And apparently the only things in the pantry are Special K products. I was really hoping someone would be brave and make something WITHOUT Special K.

                                                And could it just be coincidence that Alton Brown liked them ALL? I thought it was kind of funny that with Stacy's vanilla crunch coated chicken, he gave a pause and said something to the effect that she really nailed it for children. Can I take that to mean an adult wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole?

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                  The thing I most remember about the first challenge was when Alton told Demaris that her "unstated problem" was that she didn't have overnight to soak the french toast. He's claiming that overnight soaking is the norm or that the cereal was going to somehow solve that "problem"?

                                                  It just left me scratching my head.

                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                    Amen! Since when does it take overnight to make French toast? I've never made it myself, but my mom could whip it up for us 7 kids in no time flat. Too bad she never tried dunking it in Cap'n Crunch crumbs first.

                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                      Yes, most of us make french toast in a few minutes, but Alton's GE episode does make the case for an overnight soak.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        I've done the overnight soak, for a baked french toast I made for Christmas breakfast. But it's certainly not the usual method.

                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                          Glancing over this GE transcript:
                                                          I see that he's actually advocating making the 'custard' the night before, but dipping the bread in the morning.

                                                          Maybe it's a strada, like your baked dish, that needs the overnight soak.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            In the end I thought it sort of came out like bread pudding LOL. I think the only reason for the overnight soak in my recipe was so that you could just pop it in the oven in the morning. This recipe was in Bon Appetit years ago as a holiday breakfast dish.

                                                      2. re: rasputina

                                                        Uh yeah, I make french toast when I want a quick breakfast!

                                                    2. I don't understand how Russell ventured so far off his POV of sin--steamed chicken in spinach, for a healthier twist and won while Demaris wasn't "southern" enough and was criticized for it.

                                                      I'm with everyone about Rodney. He'd be another Guy.

                                                      Demaris seems like a genuinely nice person. She always seems to be the first to console the others, first to congratulate. Her POV could be interesting but she really needs to stop talking to her food.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        Yeah, I think AB said Russell's dish "surprised" him like it was a GOOD thing. I think that says he couldn't identify it as Russell's.

                                                        Demaris DOES seem genuine. She didn't seem so quick to recover after Nikki's exit. She even seemed a little miffed at the other's obvious feeling good about the whole thing.

                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          They were all shocked..except for Rodney..because they alllll secretly are like Wiskey Tango Foxtrot why is he still here???? Then he sits down with that cat who swallowed the carary look and Demeris for just a second had this gleam of "holy shit i want to smack you" cross her face.

                                                      2. OP - that was my first thought, too - that they simply wanted 2 guys and 2 girls as the final four, or that they wanted a surprise cut for buzz, kinda like Kristen being cut on Top Chef. That may be even too pathetic for FN, though.

                                                        1. Anyone want to chime in with their definition of pilaf? No fair looking it up first.

                                                          I'll admit I also thought of "rice with stuff in it", specifically some nuts or some peas. I sort of use it to mean pilau.

                                                          I also think of it as sauteed then simmered...the fla-vor can't be beat....rice-a-ronie, the San Francisco treat!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                            that was my definition of pilaf as well... rice or another grain with stuff mixed in. :)

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              I don't play by the rules, so I looked it up. I, too, thought it was rice with veggies mixed in. But here's dictionary.com's definition:
                                                              a Middle Eastern dish consisting of sautéed, seasoned rice steamed in bouillon, sometimes with poultry, meat or shellfish.

                                                              rice cooked in a meat or poultry broth.

                                                              Neither my understanding nor Demaris's explanation gibe with this.

                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                I think they should have made "expert" Giada define it!

                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  "Pelau is one of those dishes that really exemplifies Trinidadian cuisine because it is an admixture of various cooking styles. Pelau, or rice with meats and vegetables, is a variation of East Indian pilau, which originated in Persia where it is called polow. The Anglicized version of the dish is called pilaf. The process of browning the meat in sugar for pelau is an African tradition and ketchup is a New World addition to the dish, although I suspect it has its basis in tomato chutneys available in British India and likely brought to Trinidad by the English.

                                                                  Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo..."

                                                                  Just sayin'.

                                                                2. How is Pie Guy still there? He's annoyed me from day 1 but it seems that the panel likes him because he has "personality". How many times is he going to say, "cool", "man", "killer", et..., I guess I just don't connect with that lingo.

                                                                  I think Russell wins, just the fact that he's survived so many times after being at the bottom tells me he had it wrapped up long time ago. He portrays "edge" and will bring a different persona to the FN lineup.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JerkPork

                                                                    Yes, a few of us have marveled at Rodney's staying power. But if you go to the Food Network site, he's still ahead in the Fan Favorite poll (29% to Stacey's 27%, Damaris' 17% and Russell's feeble 5%). Which I guess illustrates that CH is not representative of the American TV viewer.

                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                      It's the first time I read and posted about the show this season and have fast forwarded most of the show that past half dozen episodes. Do we know how much weight the viewers votes receive? 5%? Ouch, I guess my prediction will be wrong.

                                                                      1. re: JerkPork

                                                                        I don't know how much weight the fan poll carries. But hopefully it's not too much.

                                                                    2. re: JerkPork

                                                                      It seems to me that if Food Network has decided it's going to be one of the two guys, they're going to have to give them a script and a new direction. Neither one has been very coherent about what they want to do with themselves other than be celebrities.

                                                                      From Day One I never understood what an "underground chef" was (as Russell was billed). Kept meaning to look it up but after a few episodes they stopped saying using that term. Then he was all about "culinary sins" and "revolutionary" but with those not being much more than meaningless catch phrases (i.e. the 500 year old yeast being a culinary sin???).

                                                                      Rodney's been consistent with "pah style"--but IIRC has only made one thing successfully with that style. Obviously he couldn't make a television career out of it.

                                                                      1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                        Russell ran an "underground" or "pop-up" restaurant in San Francisco for a couple of years and then actually had a brick and mortar restaurant for a while that eventually closed down.

                                                                        The restaurant, Lafitte, was in a prime location and I am sorry to say that I never got a chance to visit it. The menu changed daily and was always intriguing.

                                                                        The location has been taken over by Michael Chiarello this year and is currently one of the hottest spots in SF.

                                                                    3. Nikki should have gone simply for not knowing what a rice pilaf is. She had the most reasonable concept, and just completely flubbed it.

                                                                      Rodney should have gone home weeks ago, not because he is not entertaining but the guy cannot cook. But I guess this show is more about personality than it is about cooking.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                                                        Bob and Suzi pretty much just affirmed this, speaking of Rodney. They said something like, The cooking and the angle don't matter, with his personality, we can work that out later. Oy.

                                                                        1. re: tracytrace

                                                                          I know right! Then the special vewing of The Shed after sort of made me throw up a little in my mouth... what is with the FN programinging? ( pun intended)

                                                                        2. So I just placed my vote for the Next FN Star--not that I care all that much, I just didn't want a certain person to win. After I cast my vote, I get a message that says I can vote 9 more times today. Huh? So they encourage you to stuff the ballot box?

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                            Cynical me just hope the voting isnt somesort of ruse to make it look like the public "wanted" that horrid person when actually in small print it says .. producers have final say in the selection process.

                                                                            with Top Chef Jr. there was tiny little clause "producers have the right to wave or alter audition process,deadlines or tape lenghth requirements in anyway."

                                                                            1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                              The technique allowing you to vote multiple times is used as part of a market research method to measure the intensity of your support for someone. The more times you vote the more you really like the subject. You can vote 10x a day for 5 days. So not only can they declare a winner on the basis of total votes but they can measure the intensity of the preference towards one or more program.

                                                                            2. So I was watching an episode of the Soprano's tonight - I know, I'm re-watching it - and who shows up giving AJ a massage? Nikki Dinki!

                                                                              1. I ragged on Pie guy above but you know what his pilot wasn't so bad, we all like to rag on everyone in here like a Monday morning QB but we still watch. :-)

                                                                                I'm thinking Demaris wins now as they need a new "southern" face on the network.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: JerkPork

                                                                                  but his pilot was only what 90 seconds long? that is about as long as it needed.. any more would have been too much of him.. He would be great as a bumper boy... but a whole show? It is Bg Daddy all over..they gave him the idea they coached him ad nauseam but in the end he couldnt reallllllly pul it off

                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                    I hear ya, no doubt he's too much but Fieri obviously works for FN so they probably think Pie guy will too. For the record I'm not bothered by Fieri too much, pretty neutral and I'll watch DDD if I'm flipping around. I don't know why people get so worked up about him but we are all allowed our opinions.

                                                                                  2. re: JerkPork

                                                                                    My husband and I never thought Russell had what it takes to have a show, but we were impressed by his pilot. My husband never voted but that's who he would have voted for.

                                                                                    I voted for Demaris, but I had to admit that she didn't seem as polished as she could have been: a little too hyper. I would think she'd calm down after a few shots at it--if she gets them. Also, I think the idea for the show is a bit limited.

                                                                                  3. I thought the pilots were interesting and fun. I would LOVE to eat Russell's bourbon bacon ice cream. The idea of "pie style" challenges doesn't really appeal to me - but I'm not sure I'd watch any of their shows. I guess that's one of the reasons I didn't bother to vote. :)

                                                                                    ETA... oh look, I already replied to this thread. clearly's it's been a long week and I need to go home and indulge in an adult beverage. :-D